Data science project sheds light on climate change

A secondary school in Sheffield has set up its own Internet of Things network for connected devices to gather data about the environment in the industrial city.

The IoT network was made possible by the David and Jane Richards Family Foundation, a charity set up by the founder of WANdisco plc, the public software company jointly headquartered in Silicon Valley and Sheffield.

David and Jane launched the registered charity to advance the education of computer science and ecology in state schools and inspire the next generation of technology entrepreneurs and engineers.

The network is introducing young people to the potential of connected devices and their applications to reduce pollution and improve quality of life in the city.

The foundation has paid for the installation of a long range, wide area network gateway on the roof of Tapton School, allowing thousands of devices to connect from up to 6km away.

Year 9 students are working with Raspberry Pi microcomputers with added sensor boards to measure temperature, pressure, light level, colour, three-axis motion and compass heading.

The small, battery-powered devices are capable of taking 20,000 measurements a day, generating enormous amounts of information which can be analysed to yield new insights about life in the city.

Undergraduates from the Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy at the University of Sheffield worked with the foundation to create and deliver a number of lessons for Tapton students about the Internet of Things and current affairs surrounding climate change.

As part of these lessons, they had the opportunity to meet Steve Jubb, technical manager for the Urban Flows university research project, and see the electric van Mobius (Mobile Urban Sensing) to understand how their local environment is monitored using real-time data.